Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Seahawks Fantasy Preview

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Seahawks 2014-2017 Offensive Profile

2014-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 32nd, 28th, 18th, 16th
2014-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 2nd, 3rd, 20th, 21st
2014-2017 Play Volume Rank: 14th, 16th, 19th, 17th
2014-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 6th, 5th, 12th, 17th
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 2,098 (6th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 127 (15th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Russell Wilson
RB: Rashaad Penny
WR: Doug Baldwin
WR: Tyler Lockett
WR: Brandon Marshall
TE: Ed Dickson
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Ethan Pocic
C: Justin Britt
RG: D.J. Fluker
RT: Germain Ifedi

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Passing Game Outlook

Russell Wilson entered 2018 as an obvious positive-touchdown-regression candidate after 2016’s career-low 3.8% TD rate, then capitalized by leading the NFL in touchdown passes (34). Including rushing scores, Wilson incredibly accounted for 37 of Seattle’s 38 offensive TDs en route to overall QB1 fantasy results. A quintessential high-floor, high-ceiling producer, Wilson has finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback in three of the last four years and ranked QB11 or better in 6-of-6 NFL seasons. Wilson’s pass attempts have risen each year he’s been in the league, although the Seahawks’ hire of run-first OC Brian Schottenheimer strongly suggests they intend to end that trend, while Seattle’s allowance of red-zone dominator Jimmy Graham and big-play threat Paul Richardson to walk in free agency cost Wilson two of his top-three weapons. Wilson is my No. 3-ranked fantasy QB behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, but he’s still being overvalued at his early-round ADP in the context of fantasy’s deepest position.

Doug Baldwin enters 2018 with three straight top-15 fantasy receiver finishes and five straight 16-game seasons. Yet it’s not unrealistic to project a career-best year based on Seattle’s shortage of passing-game alternatives, particularly in scoring position, where Graham and Richardson’s exits vacate a whopping 37 red-zone targets, including 21 targets inside the ten-yard line. Baldwin’s ability to work comfortably in confined spaces has always made him a terrific red-zone weapon despite his smallish size (5’10/189), and Baldwin went absolutely berserk with Graham out of the 2015 lineup with a torn patellar tendon, logging a 94/1,308/24(!!!) receiving pace over Seattle’s final eight games, including the playoffs. As Baldwin runs over 70% of his routes in the slot, he projects to mostly avoid the stingiest perimeter corners on Seattle’s schedule such as Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Patrick Peterson, Darius Slay, Casey Hayward, Xavier Rhodes, and Richard Sherman. Baldwin is my No. 10-ranked fantasy receiver and one of my highest-owned third-round best-ball picks. I plan on loading up on Baldwin in re-draft leagues, as well.

Tyler Lockett gets the biggest opportunity of his career with Richardson and Graham gone and weak remaining competition for non-Baldwin targets. Lockett broke his fibula and tibia in Week 16 of 2016 and never looked right last season, averaging career lows in yards per catch (12.3), yards per target (7.8), yards per game (34.7), punt-return average (6.6), and kick-return average (25.6). Lockett’s Game Speed registered stunningly slow in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Next Gen Stats charts. Lockett did take a kickoff 99 yards to the house in Week 17, perhaps foreshadowing a 2018 return to full health. Lockett is the tentative favorite for No. 2 wideout duties in a Seahawks offense missing the NFL’s sixth-most Air Yards from last year’s team. In his contract season at age 26, Lockett is a target-chasing buy in the 12th through 14th rounds.

Brandon Marshall, Amara Darboh, and Jaron Brown will also vie for snaps in Seattle’s up-for-grabs receiver corps. 34-year-old Marshall has the biggest name, but he is coming off toe and ankle surgeries and sat out minicamp with a hamstring strain. Marshall hasn’t put quality football on tape since 2015, and he would be easy to cut with only $90,000 guaranteed on his one-year, $1.105 million deal. 2017 third-round pick Darboh earned just 13 targets and 18% of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps, losing playing time as his rookie season progressed. I saw Darboh as a Terrance Williams-level prospect coming out of Michigan. Brown has the biggest contract (two years, $5.5 million) and arguably highest ceiling here after setting career highs across the board (31/477/4) as a rotational receiver in Arizona last season while playing with Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton over half the time.

Ed Dickson and Nick Vannett are the Seahawks’ underwhelming favorites for tight end duties, Dickson arriving on a three-year, $10.7 million contract and Vannett looking to carve out third-year snaps after two non-factor seasons. Dickson’s role with the 2017 Panthers increased dramatically due to Greg Olsen’s foot fracture but amounted to little production (30/437/1). The year before with Olsen healthy, Dickson blocked on 69% of his snaps. Vannett was the 94th pick in the 2016 draft despite running a 4.89 forty and never reaching 20 catches in four seasons at Ohio State. It’s hard to know what the Seahawks saw in him. Vannett played just 28% of Seattle’s 2017 offensive snaps, blocking on 65%. Dickson is a better dart throw in deep tight end premium leagues.

 

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Running Game Outlook

Intent on “establishing the run,” the Seahawks made the most-shocking pick of the 2018 first round by drafting Rashaad Penny at No. 27 overall. Penny showed Carlos Hyde-level running traits at San Diego State and averaged a scintillating 7.49 yards per career carry, but he backed up fringe NFL player Donnel Pumphrey in each of his three underclassman years, struggled as a pass blocker, and never topped 19 catches in a college season. In 2017, PFF College did credit Penny with the most missed tackles forced (86) and runs of 15-plus yards (35) among draft-eligible backs. New OC Brian Schottenheimer cut his offensive-coordinating teeth under run-game proponents Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, and Jeff Fisher, and has openly stated his goal is to run the ball against all-numbered fronts and use lead blockers that invite eight-man boxes, both decidedly sub-optimal approaches. Although the Seahawks’ offensive philosophy gives Penny enticing volume upside, successfully implementing Schottenheimer’s style of play is much easier said than done in the modern NFL. It can’t help that last year’s Seahawks offensive line finished 28th in PFF’s yards created before contact and 31st in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards.

Chris Carson poses a threat to Penny after fully recovering from last October’s broken ankle/leg. A big (6’0/218), physical run finisher with some DeMarco Murray to his game, Carson took over Seattle’s lead back job before his injury with 21, 13, and 15 touches in Weeks 2-4. Carson added ten pounds of muscle during his rehab, and Pete Carroll showered him with minicamp praise. “He hasn’t missed one snap of anything,” said the Seahawks’ coach. “He’s just looked so fit and so cut and quick and explosive. He’s the guy that just stood out.” The Seahawks drafted Penny to be the centerpiece of their new offense, but Carson is quite capable of cutting into his work. Also in the mix for backfield snaps are oft-injured multi-purpose back C.J. Prosise, who made it through the spring healthy, and 187-pound scatback J.D. McKissic, a converted receiver who led last year’s backfield in catches (34).

2018 Vegas Win Total

The Seahawks’ Win Total opened at 8.0 with -120 odds to the under despite the fact that Pete Carroll’s team has won nine games or more in six straight seasons. Seattle does have regression factors working in its favor after going 4-6 in one-score games last year, although the roster has taken a significant turn for the worse. The Seahawks parted ways with Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham on offense, and the defense lost Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Sheldon Richardson. GM John Schneider has reportedly strongly considered trading defensive lynchpin Earl Thomas. Whereas arrows are pointing up on the division-rival Rams and 49ers, Seattle looks to be on a decidedly downward trajectory in terms of both personnel and backwards-thinking strategy. Warren Sharp noted the Seahawks go from facing last year’s second-easiest schedule in the NFL to this year’s third toughest. Although fading the public, betting on the magician that is Russell Wilson, and chasing higher-payout odds on Seattle’s over is tempting, my lack of belief in where this team is headed keeps bringing me back to under eight wins. I’ve now sided with the under on all four NFC West teams.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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